In the three periods on Sunday night, the Blackhawks became progressively worse with each intermission. The culmination came in the third period when ‘Hawk players littered the penalty box and tried to win in the only category they could at that point, trash-talking. Considering they were done 4-0 at that point, they didn’t really stand much of a chance in that department either.
Basically, you could sum up this game in one simple equation: The line of Sedin-Sedin-Burrows >>>>>>>>> HavBolLadd line. The Sedins and Burrows dictated the tempo the entire time they were out on the ice. Daniel Sedin (the uglier of the two) notched a goal three and a half minutes into the game on a scramble in front where he out-positioned Duncan Keith and deposited the puck into the net.
Alex Burrows joined the party nine minutes into the second period when Henrik Sedin crossed the ‘Hawks blue line, found Daniel on the opposite side, Burrows broke to the net, beat Brian Campbell, and then Daniel put the puck right on his stick, and he re-directed it past Khabibulin.
In the third, the line put the ‘Hawks away for good four minutes into the period when Daniel Sedin notched his second from the goal line off a tic-tac-toe play from Burrows and Henrik. Burrows found Henrik breaking down the slot, Henrik saw Daniel wide open on the goal line and just like that, it was in the back of the net.
Meanwhile, HavBolLadd were a collective -7 with only 5 shots on net. If these two teams meet in the post-season, this match-up probably has to be addressed.
Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo collected the shut-out but he probably only made about one big-time save when about half-way through the second, he denied Martin Havlat on the door step. Give credit to the Canucks defensive play. They gave no room for the ‘Hawks to breath, let alone get open. Many times (read: EVERY TIME) the ‘Hawks attempts to cycle within the offensive zone were denied by Canucks stepping into the passing lanes and gaining possesion. Maybe it was because the ‘Hawks were being too predictable, maybe Vancouver saw something in the film room, or maybe it was because Vancouver “wanted” it more, but either way, Vancouver’s defensive zone coverage was superb.
The ugliest part of the game came in the third period when Dustin Byfuglien decided if he couldn’t score on Luongo, he would shove his elbow in his mouth. What followed was a fisticuff from yester-year. Several players squared off exchanging blows.
- Ben Eager ripped apart big-time heavyweight Kevin Bieksa like a lion mangling a gazelle carcass. Bieksa left the ice with his mouth bleeding, shoulder and elbow pads missing, and his undershirt looking like it came under attack from a Great White Shark (At this point of the game, I may or may not have been switching back and forth between the Planet Earth Sunday Marathon.)
- Duncan Keith had his hair torn out by Alex Burrows and for good measure, had his forehead driven to the ice. Burrows, realizing he almost killed Keith, seemed to stop and make sure he was ok, then proceeded to rip out some more hair.
- Adam Burish somehow received 6 minutes in roughing penalties even though he never got out of the linemen’s grasp. Meanwhile, Edzo was practically foaming at the mouth for Burish to get away so he could pummel the aforementioned Burrows.
It was quite an eventful proceeding, that in the end turned out to mean absolutely nothing, as Vancouver had already built up an insurmontable 3-0 lead to that point. Well, as long as Duncan Keith doesn’t die of a brain bleed.
If anything, the ‘Hawks should have put up that kind of response after Darcy Hordichuk went knee to knee with not one, but two ‘Hawk players on the same shift in the first period. Hordichuk got a piece of Ham Sandwich’s knee behind the net. With the delayed penalty being called and a loose puck in his vicinity, Hordichuk then took a chunk out of Troy Brouwer when he dove at him feet first and then stuck his leg up to clip Brouwer’s leg. Brouwer was hurt on the play and would not return.
UPDATE: Note from Bob: The most frustrating part of Sunday evening’s uneven tilt was the ‘Hawks’ inability to hit the net on opportunities. On one end, the Canucks capitalized on their few opportunities, while Byfuglien, Havlat and Kane all missed the net on the Blackhawks’ best chances during the first 30 minutes, with the Havlat and Kane chances coming on partial breakaways.
The other maddening piece was the positioning of Cam Barker and Brent Seabrook on the 5-on-3 power play, where the left-handed shooting Barker played the left point and the right-handed shooting Seabrook played the right point. This alleviated entirely any opporunities for partner-to-partner or cross-ice one-timers, as each defenseman was forced to catch and turn before attempting to shoot each time he collected a pass from his partner on the other side of the ice, and ultimately, it meant the ‘Hawks point men wouldn’t get any great opportunities from outside. While I suppose the idea is for the one-timers to be set up from the winger along the boards, even a one-timer in that situation would remove Luongo’s need to slide from side-to-side on a one-time shot attempt.
For as good as Lunongo is, the ‘Hawks can’t make his job easier by banging pucks off the boards behind him.
As for the fight, I knew something was awry when Adam Burish took the body three times on the same shift for the first time since the Geogre W. Bush administration. While it was a nice attempt to generate momentum – and one I don’t necessarily mind – it would have been nicer an hour earlier. If nothing else, it was entertainment enough to keep me in my seat for 15 minutes longer.
Finally, my guess is Sunday’s game is what Q needed to break up the marriage that is the three-way between Bolland, Havlat and Ladd. Assuming Brouwer is still alive, I’d like to see him with Pahlsson and Ladd tomorrow evening in Montreal. Matching up with the Sedin boys or the Jokinen-Cammalleri-Iginla fright fest could become the key to any first round playoff series for these ‘Hawks, especially considering their recent issues in the defensive zone.